The annual holiday lights display at Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory will be turned on Friday and remain up through Dec. 19.
Going to see the lights has become a holiday staple for many since they were first put up in 1994. More than 30,000 lights decorate palm trees and plants – including the 106-year-old Christmas cactus which is blooming pink – and poinsettias are set out in beautiful displays.
The Friends of Manito funds the light show as an annual thank you for the public’s support.
This year, the group has also produced a 2013 calendar featuring photos from Manito Park from throughout the year. The $15 calendar was so popular right off the bat it’s now in its second printing.
“There are calendars everywhere in the office right now,” said Judy Nelson, Friends of Manito coordinator. “We figured we’d make 300, but they were gone just like that.” A second batch of calendars was ordered, and there are about 175 left.
The calendar was the brainchild of Janis Saiki, plant manager for the Friends of Manito. She took most of the photos and designed the calendar. Claudia Biggs also contributed photos.
“It’s the very first time we’ve made a calendar,” Nelson said. “I’m not quite sure how we got started on it, but it’s been very popular.” The calendar features photos from many Manito Park spots, including the rose garden, the Japanese garden, the perennial garden and – of course – the lilacs.
Proceeds from the calendar sale go to fund the work of the Friends of Manito.
“Right now our biggest ongoing project is the restoration of the Mirror Pond,” Nelson said. Other projects finished this year include a picnic shelter next to the playground off 25th Avenue, a new shade garden behind the Park Bench café and improvements to the park entrance at the Japanese garden.
Calendars will be available at the holiday light open houses and can also be ordered at the Friends of Manito office.
“We have been overwhelmed by the response,” Nelson said. “People order calendars for their friends and family as gifts. And people order from overseas. I just sent one to Austria.”